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Zimbabwe Journalists Union Urges Members To Defy Information Ministry

The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists has urged its members to ignore instructions from the Ministry of Information to register with the Media and Information Commission to cover this week's summit of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, or Comesa.

The union said journalists should not register until a legally constituted accreditation body has been put in place. The Media and Information Commission was dissolved in 2008 and is to to be replaced by the Zimbabwe Media Commission, which has yet to be constituted.

Information Minister Webster Shamu therefore told journalists to register with the MIC, which played a key role in repressing independent media outlets in the country, most notably in the 2003 closure of the Daily News, which was refused permission to publish.

The ministry's instructions put Shamu at odds with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who said last week that there was no legal obligation for journalists and media houses to apply for accreditation until the new media commission has been established.

Zimbabwe Union of Journalists President Matthew Takaona told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the Media and Information Commission no longer has any existence so far as Zimbabwean law - or his union - is concerned.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...